As a Recruiter reviews a resume, there are certain things that we typically look for and want to see in a resume, and certain things we just don’t want to see.
I think when we first start reading a resume or cv, one of the first things to catch our eye is the format. Before we start reading through it line by line, we will notice immediately if the formatting is easy to read (or not), if there’s enough spacing in between each section, if the font is a decent size, and so forth. If there is too much of something, for example if every other word is in bold, or if there are several different font sizes used (very hard on the eyes), or the employment dates are not in the same format, it can come across as a bit sloppy, as if the applicant never bothered to proof the resume before hitting send.
The next thing we will be looking for is the current job title and job summary, to determine if the candidate’s current position and experience is comparable to the job we are recruiting for. So for example, if the scientist job I’m recruiting for requires 5 years of medicinal chemistry experience, I will look first at their current title and job duties to see if they have the required background. I’ll look next at their previous jobs, to determine if there’s a match with what my company is looking for. Also, we typically want to see some career progression.
Next is education. You want to see if there’s a match between the job requirement and the applicant’s degree, both the type of degree, i.e. bachelor’s degree, Ph.D., etc. and the discipline, i.e. organic chemistry, molecular biology, etc. In addition, for a scientist candidate, we want to make sure they have a good record of accomplishment. We will review their list of publications, to see how well published they are, if they are first author on any of them, etc. The more publications the better.
What things do we not want to see on a resume or CV? Big gaps in employment. Of course, we all realize that many of us were victims of reductions in force/mergers/acquisitions, etc. during the recession, so a recruiter should take that into consideration. I’m referring more to large gaps of employment throughout the resume, indicative of a pattern.
Also, lots of movement or job hopping from company to company (which can interpreted as a lack of commitment or focus), many typos, poor grammar, overuse of color/graphics (unless you’re a graphic artist or similar), vague statements (with no specifics at all), very long paragraph-style writing (bullets are usually much easier to read quickly), resumes with so many pages you could call it a novel (with the exception of publication lists, which can be a few pages or so).
Hopefully, this will give you a glimpse into how we recruiters review resumes, and what we do (and don’t) want to see in the 30 seconds or so that we have to read each one that comes to our inboxes, applicant tracking system, inmails, etc.